A member of the Free Syrian Army steps on a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad one day after the Syrian defense minister was killed in an attack in Damascus in Aleppo in Syria on July 19, 2012. UPI/Khaled Tallawy | License Photo
ROME, July 30 (UPI) -- Syrian military action targeting rebel positions in Aleppo, the largest city in the country, is a disturbing development, the Italian government said.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said last weekend that as many as 200,000 people have fled the area near Aleppo in the last few days. Rebel and government forces were fighting in the city. Rebel forces had gained control over a military base though the situation was fluid Monday.
Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Giulio Terzi described the government siege on Aleppo as "disturbing."
"Everyone must contribute to putting the maximum pressure on (Syrian President Bashar) Assad in order to avoid another massacre," Terzi said in a statement.
In May, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said most of the 108 people killed during a Syrian assault on the city of Houla had been summarily executed. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the commission, said entire families were apparently shot to death in their homes by Syrian authorities.
The Italian government said it took note of the French government's August assumption of the rotating presidency of the U.N. General Assembly. The French government said it would call an emergency foreign ministerial meeting once it takes over.
The United Nations is deadlocked over the Syrian crisis because of opposition to a formal resolution censuring Damascus by the Russian and Chinese governments.